Chicken-Fried Infamy

Texas and Oklahoma linemen aren't the only ones set to butt heads Saturday at the Texas State Fairgrounds. Consolidated Restaurant Operations Chairman Gene Street is going to bang skillets with cooks from Newton's, an Oklahoma City restaurant, to determine which state can sizzle the best chicken-fried steak. "I need to practice," admits Street. "All I can remember is flour-batter-flour." Street, founder of Black-eyed Pea and Good Eats, two restaurants that buttered their ledger bread with chicken-fried steak, says the duel was set up through the Texas Beef Association and is a rerun of one that took place some six years ago, when Texas tromped Oklahoma in the skillet bowl. "There's three Oklahoma judges and two Texas judges, so we might get the short end of the deal," Street says. "I hope we don't set ourselves on fire."

Things are cool at Street's CRO, though. The company has yet to complete its deal with Dallas businessman Scott Ginsburg to install a Cool River Café in the former Voltaire space. And CRO is still scouring Dallas for a plot to plant its midlevel steak house Silver Fox. "We've been looking downtown or near downtown Dallas for a location for about the last 18 months," he says. "We'd like to get our own little 6,500-square-foot space. I'd love to find one in Lakewood."

After some 68 years of risking a bust, Texas consumers can now order and have wine legally shipped to their front doors from beyond the Texas border. On its Web site, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission says it will no longer ban out-of-state wine shipments to consumers following a June 26 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opinion ruling that several provisions of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code are unconstitutional, running afoul of the Commerce Clause by discriminating against out-of-state wineries (Texas wineries are free to ship up to 25,000 gallons annually to Texas consumers). So now, Texas sippers are free to order a case of Screaming Eagle cab or Mary Edwards Russian River Valley pinot noir and have it dropped on their welcome mats without risking a seizure by Texas hooch cops. (The court's injunction applies only to wine, and you'll get slapped if you try to ship Yukon Jack or Pabst, or if your door is in one of those annoying Texas dry areas.) The court also took a little jab at our beloved TABC in its opinion, noting that the TABC "administrator baldly asserted...that the TABC does not discriminate between in-state and out-of-state wineries...To paraphrase the Bard, that which we call discrimination by any other name would still smell as foul."

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